Free Annual Credit Report
Everyone is entitled to one free annual credit report from four different places, which are Equifax, TransUnion, Experian and AnnualCreditReport.com. Thousands of people contact the Federal Trade Commission daily to lodge complaints that they had to pay a “fee” before receiving their “free” credit report. The “fee” usually comes from people who are trying to sell their product or service and knowing the credit report is free, they throw that in as an incentive to buy their product or use their service. The only safe way for anyone to receive a truly free credit report and that is to contact one of the above listed agencies.
Everyone should make sure to get his or her free annual credit report every year. In this way, you can keep up with what is on your report and if there is anything on your report that does not belong there, you will be able to catch it and have it removed before it does damage by lowering your score. You have the option of ordering all three reports at the same time or ordering each report separately. The better way is to order each report separately, a few months apart; this enables you to keep track of your report throughout the entire year, which in turn, allows you to catch mistakes right when they happen.
By getting your free annual credit report separately throughout the year, not only can you catch mistakes and fix them right away but you also have a better chance of catching identity theft. This is a huge issue due to the fact that your credit report contains sensitive information about you, which is used to evaluate your ability to get things like credit cards, buying or renting a home, buying a car or even gaining employment. Some places will not hire someone with bad credit just as some property owners will not rent to someone with a bad credit history.
Mistakes on your free annual credit report are unfortunately common and the faster you catch them, the faster you can have them corrected. It is imperative that you find any mistakes and start the process of correcting any inaccuracies as soon as possible. Just like with everything else in life, it takes months to have mistakes corrected during which time your report shows activity which is not yours. If you try to explain this to someone you are trying to get credit with, chances are good they will not believe you.
If you suspect identity theft the first thing you should do is to place a fraud alert on all three of your free annual credit reports, close the compromised accounts, alert the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to lodge a complaint and you may even need to file a police report. Other than the three consumers reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, these three agencies operate the only authorized website where either you can go get your report all at once or separately; that website is annualcreditreport.com.